The clock is ticking. Thousands of New Mexicans will lose their ability to buy affordable health insurance under the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange, also known as NMHIX, if they fail to enroll by March 31. If they miss this important deadline, unless they become covered by an employer or have a life-changing event such as marriage or birth of a child, they will be unable to get health insurance coverage until January 2015 at the earliest. So sign up today!
Much has been said and written about the affordability of the insurance plans provided by NMHIX. If an individual is making less than $45,000 a year and a family of four has a household income of less than $96,000 a year, they may be able to afford health care insurance for the first time ever and pay no premium or a low monthly premium. Why? Because they may qualify for federal subsidies to help pay their premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.
NMHIX has been working to make it as easy as possible for individuals to calculate what their premium subsidies would be and to shop available plans through the "NM Care Compare" tool on BeWellNm.com. Anyone can use this tool to see their options, savings and costs without having to first complete an application. We at the Exchange are committed to give you simple-to-use resources to find out the best option for you and your family.
There are a couple of other important points people should keep in mind when deciding whether to enroll in health care insurance this year. The first is that no one with a pre-existing condition can be denied coverage or charged more because of it. So, even if you have a serious acute or chronic health care problem, you can get health insurance.
The second point to remember is that there are penalties. This year, the penalty is $95 or one percent of your adjusted gross income, whichever is higher. It may not sound like much, but the penalty will go up every year from now on. And why pay a penalty for nothing when instead you can get something you actually need?
That brings us to the third point. You don't need health insurance until you need it -- when you break a bone, or you end up in the hospital with pneumonia or have to have your appendix taken out. Or a member of your family gets sick. Without insurance, hospital and medical bills can seriously impact your finances, your credit and keep you from achieving important goals. You pay for car insurance and homeowners or renters insurance; why not protect your and your family from an unanticipated accident or illness with health insurance?
NMHIX is here to help to make the process simple. We've got an army of more than 400 insurance agents and brokers statewide who at no cost can help you choose and enroll in a plan, as well as nearly 500 certified health care guides. To get help, simply call our toll-free bilingual hotline, 1-855-996-6449, or go to BeWellNM.com, click on "I Need Help" and type in your zip code to locate one-on-one assistance near you. We've made it even easier now. If you can't get to a computer, you can text us for help by sending the message BeWellNM to 311411.
NMHIX is seeing more interest from New Mexicans in learning how to get health insurance through the performance measures that we monitor on a daily basis, such as record-breaking call center volume, the growing numbers of new visitors to our website daily, and an increase in applications. We have learned a lot over the past few months about how to reach those who can most benefit from the exchange as well as how to equip those best able to help them enroll. This is encouraging, but we aren't finished yet.
Buying health insurance isn't exciting, but it's an investment in your future. The opportunity to enroll in affordable insurance will not come around again until 2015 so now is the time. Insurance can be confusing, but with resources available to you 24/7, we are working to make this as simple as possible so you can feel secure in your health coverage for 2014. Don't wait until March 31! The time is now to enroll in affordable coverage.